15 Phillimore St,
Fremantle WA 6160
Ph: (08) 9430 4166
  • Free camping

14th August 2015

Free Camping results in more Visitor Spending

Wayfound is interested in destination branding and marketing. So, we’re keen to learn about any initiatives that help to attract visitors and get them to spend money in a destination where they might not have planned on staying.

In a tourism strategy, Wayfound Consultant, David Duncanson recommended that the Shire of Irwin offer one night free camping to attract visitors (especially grey nomads) to stay in Dongara. Well, they’ve done that and now the Shire has data that shows that this offer results in an additional $187 in spending in the town. This is money that previously went elsewhere!

We recently read another example in The West Australian Travel (18-19 July 2015) about Port Hedland now attracting grey nomads, who would previously have bypassed the town to stay. The Shire of Port Hedland offers up to two nights free camping at the town’s racetrack (when not in use) for self-contained vehicles. This has created some problems with commercial caravan parks but has resulted in spending in town by tourists who would have passed by (maybe stopped for fuel and lunch but otherwise kept going).

Within 3 days of the Port Hedland Visitor Centre posting the announcement about free camping, there were more than 13,000 visits to their Facebook page.

An older couple quoted in The West’s article said they spent $1000 in the town that they would have spent elsewhere. Other data shows that people are staying 3 or 4 nights and participating in ‘industrial tourism activities’ – eg: visiting working mines, going to the harbour.

Julie Hunt of the Town of Port Hedland emphasises the need to think creatively about tourism experiences, saying that many people from the east coast have never seen a working mine and are very interested.


What can your town do?

Can you offer free WiFi that might get visitors to stay longer and find out about things to do? Can you offer unique experiences?

Think laterally and creatively about what your area has to offer. Ask people from outside what they find interesting. Things you find ho-hum might be very interesting to city-based people.
Can you make something interesting out of your industries, produce or heritage? A farm-stay, harvesting, planting, milking, mining, etc? Can you offer camping, WiFi, free tours that might get people to stay?